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Trade Retrospective: How Did the Twins Do in the Eduardo Escobar Trade?

It’s been a little over two years since the Twins traded Eduardo Escobar to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a trio of minor league players. One of those players, Jhoan Duran, is one of the team’s top starting pitching prospect. Escobar was on his way to free agency at season’s end and Minnesota was able to get some value for the infielder. After two years, how have the Twins fared in the Eduardo Escobar trade?
Image courtesy of Daniel Venn, Pensacola Blue Wahoos (photo of Jhoan Duran)
Time can change the view of a trade, so here’s what was said back in 2018 at the time of the deal.

What Did People Say at the Time of the Trade?
Arizona’s manager Torey Lovullo said, “We’re really excited about Eduardo Escobar. He’s got a tremendous track record in this game, he’s a great teammate, he’s a great player. He’ll fit right in.”

At the time, Twins general manager Thad Levine said, both scouts and data analysts found the team’s haul in the deal “very exciting.” When referencing the Escobar trade and the Ryan Pressly deal, he said, “I believe four of them will go right into our top 30 prospects, and that’s meaningful. What we were able to accomplish yesterday may not pay dividends tomorrow, but on the horizon, that just got brighter.”

Baseball America was very high on Duran at the time of the deal as he was the 10th ranked prospect in the Diamondback organization. They wrote, “He's coveted for his size, projectability and arm strength. His four-seam fastball reaches into the upper 90s and has peaked at 98 mph this season, and he's also shown a two-seam fastball in the low 90s that has flashed plus at low Class A Kane County. He has feel to spin his curveball, but the pitch still needs further refinement to keep hitters from picking it up early. His changeup is well below-average.”

The other two players acquire along with Duran were Gabriel Maciel and Ernie De La Trinidad. Baseball America said, “Maciel is a touch undersized but has shown the ability to spray the ball around the park. Even so, scouts see well below-average power with plus speed. He plays an average center field right now, but with his speed has a chance to develop into an above-average defender.”

Regarding De La Trinidad, Baseball America said, “De La Trinidad has plenty of power for a player listed at just 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds. His eight home runs are second on Kane County, behind only Jazz Chisholm… He plays hard and gets the most out of his ability, but there is no single carrying tool on his card and he does not project as a big league regular.”

Escobar’s Arizona Time
The Diamondbacks were trading for only a partial season of Escobar even though they did go on to resign him. In those 54 games in 2018, he hit .268/.320/.444 with eight home runs and 11 doubles. At the time of the trade the Diamondbacks were trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers by 1.5 games in the NL West and they were a half-game behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL wild-card race. Things didn’t go well down the stretch as Arizona ended the season with an 82-80 record which was 9.5 games back in the division.

Escobar resigned with the Diamondbacks for three years and $21 million, so he has one more year remaining on that current contract. In 2019, he hit .269/.320/.511 with 35 home runs, 29 doubles, and a league leading 10 triples. The 2020 seasons didn’t go as well for him as his OPS dropped by over 200 points.

Minnesota’s Trade Return
Back in 2019, Duran was able to reach Double-A as a 21-year-old and the Twins added him to the 40-man roster following the season. His fastball is his key to getting to the big leagues as he can hit triple-digits on the radar gun. His best secondary pitch, a splitter/sinker hybrid pitch, is one that Baseball America has written multiple articles about. This pitch typically sits in the 88-94 mph range and he adds in a curveball that continues to improve.

Maciel split the 2019 season between Low- and High-A where he hit .283/.366/.366 with 18 extra-base hits and a 61 to 44 strikeout to walk ratio. Also, he played all three outfield positions. De La Trinidad split the 2019 season between High- and Double-A where he hit .228/.309/.320 with 15 extra base hits and a 68 to 31 strikeout to walk ratio.

Without any minor league games, it’s hard to know what kind of improvements any of these players made in 2020. Duran got to work the entire year at the team’s alternate site and the Twins continue to be very high on his potential.

Who Won the Trade?
Any value the Twins could get for Escobar is positive since he was essential a rental player. Minnesota has a deep farm system and Duran is one of the organization’s top pitching prospects. At best, he should fit into the Twins rotation for the better part of the next decade. If he can’t make it as a starter, his pitch combination could make him a lethal bullpen option. Maciel and De La Trinidad have an outside shot at making the big leagues, but the Twins clearly won with their acquisition of Duran.

Looking back, what do you think about the trade? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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17 Comments

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Dodecahedron
Nov 05 2020 11:51 AM
In 2019, he hit .269/.320/.511 with 35 home runs, 29 doubles, and a league leading 10 triples.

 

 

He did that well? Wow. The Twins could have used that last year for sure.

 

If you believe the window is closing for the Twins, the Twins lost that trade. I doubt anyone here believes that, but it's a possibility as there will be changes next year.

    • mikelink45 likes this

I agree with Cody, Twins did well on trade. Escobar was going to be a FA after that season. Twins were bad that season. If they get anything from any of those 3 players at the MLB level, it is a positive trade for the Twins. The other 2 may never make the MLB level, but Duran looks good and could be a long term MLB contributor. Twins knew it was going to take time to get any return from trade.

    • Seth Stohs, Danchat, DocBauer and 3 others like this

I cannot judge this yet.Does Duran pitch in the majors?Does Duran get injured?Too many unknowns.Escobar has contributed well so how can we say we won when the trade players still have not sniffed MLB?

    • jjswol, Danchat, Hosken Bombo Disco and 3 others like this
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tony&rodney
Nov 05 2020 03:46 PM

Duran needs to pitch in the majors to see how this trade worked out. Escobar was a proven player with multiple skills and has done well in Arizona. He was well-liked by other players, the fans, and produced on the field. Duran is a prospect. While my personal preference is for the Twins to put Jhoan in the 5th SP slot in 2021, he still remains an unknown talent for MLB purposes, whereas we all know that Escobar was a talented player. For now, the trade favors the Diamondbacks but this can turn with the emergence of Duran this coming summer.

    • jjswol, mikelink45, Hosken Bombo Disco and 1 other like this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Nov 05 2020 05:16 PM
Wasn’t a fan of this one. Escobar went in the fire sale of 2018, when many players were traded. The Twins were 7 games back but I would have liked to see how the pennant race played out. The Twins were sellers the season before, as well, and then rallied.

It will be fun when Duran makes his debut, even if the lustre and glow of being a starting pitcher is starting to wear off.
    • mikelink45 and KGB like this
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Major League Ready
Nov 05 2020 05:37 PM

The Twins simply were not very good that year. They were not going to be even remotely serious contenders with or without him. The way I I see, they can't loose for having made a trade in a year they were not going to contend. The question is did the acquire anyone who will contribute. If they get an average ML starter ... it's a win. If they get a mid rotation SP it's a win. If Duran is a solid #2SP ... It's a huge win. If we get two average ML starters ... it's a huge win.

 

If you look back throughout the past decade, they are 4X more players on playoff rosters that are acquired in similar transactions as compared to trading for impact players. Getting something out of players about to be FAs is a huge boost to building a contender in a mid-market. We could have been a little better and enjoyed Eduardo for another couple months. If it turns out we get someone who makes us significantly better for 6 or more years, I will take that path every time. 

    • Dman likes this

Escobar turned down an extension with the Twins. There return was more that generous for a half season rental. 

    • Twins33, Danchat, Major League Ready and 2 others like this

It depends on if you count the Escobar extension (which was an A+ move by Arizona) - there were reports that the Twins offered Eddie an extension, but he declined, so they traded him. At the time this seemed like an underwhelming deal, but it's been encouraging to see Duran turn into a top 5 prospect. It's still anyone's guess if he pans out, but we needed to get these type of pitching prospects into the system.

 

I think Maciel's ability to make contact and hold a high average will at least get him to the majors. I'd guess De La Trinidad doesn't make the big leagues.

    • Dman and wabene like this
I always enjoy topics like this, filled with so much speculation. I was, and remain, a fan of Escobar. I really wish we still had him, and that's not a knock on our current roster or those acquired. I'm agreeing with Mike that's it's just too early to tell if anyone actually won the trade.

IIRC, the Twins did offer an extension but it was turned down. Considering he re-upped with Arizona for a very manageable contract, the Twins offer must have been low, or, not good enough to Escobar considering Sano was still the expected 3B and Polanco was coming on etc. Did the Twins receive a good haul in return? Absolutely!

Now, we don't know how good Duran will be. But the guy has the right build and great stuff and results to back it up. (At least at the milb level). I have yet to read a single opinion from anyone that doesn't like him and his potential. And big potential arms are extremely valuable.

As to Maciel and Trinidad, well, we'll see. The Twins system is LOADED pretty good OF talent but not everyone makes it, and there are always trade possibilities. You need 3 really good ones, plus a solid 4th, and sometimes a 5th when talking about depth and even DH possibilities. I believe Celestino is definitely ahead of Maciel. That doesn't mean Maciel doesn't turn out to be quality...or tradeable...as a 4th OF. Maybe Celestino gets moved at some point. Or maybe he takes over for Buxton at some point and we need that backup CF option. (Not saying I predict or want that, but it could happen). Trinidad, I believe, can/has played some CF but projects as a corner OF with a solid skill set. Again, a possible 4th OF option?

Duran is the key piece here. And we should see him at some point in 2021. When and how good he is immediately is impossible to judge at this point. If either of the OF's turn in to decent/solid players, or part of a future trade, it could easily be a "victory" trade for the Twins for sure.

As MajorLeague stated clearly, Duran as a quality ML SP to possible top 2 SP option will give the Twins the win here. But we're at least a year from a decision.
    • mikelink45 likes this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Nov 05 2020 08:08 PM

The Twins simply were not very good that year. They were not going to be even remotely serious contenders with or without him. The way I I see, they can't loose for having made a trade in a year they were not going to contend. The question is did the acquire anyone who will contribute. If they get an average ML starter ... it's a win. If they get a mid rotation SP it's a win. If Duran is a solid #2SP ... It's a huge win. If we get two average ML starters ... it's a huge win.
 
If you look back throughout the past decade, they are 4X more players on playoff rosters that are acquired in similar transactions as compared to trading for impact players. Getting something out of players about to be FAs is a huge boost to building a contender in a mid-market. We could have been a little better and enjoyed Eduardo for another couple months. If it turns out we get someone who makes us significantly better for 6 or more years, I will take that path every time.

But the Twins were serious contenders in 2019 and 2020, so not sure what
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Nov 05 2020 08:15 PM

...the Twins offer must have been low, or, not good enough...

Agree! We just don’t know what the offer was.

I’m the biggest fan when it comes to trades for starting pitching. However, I’m still stuck in the old thinking that teams want strong rotations, and if that’s not how it’s trending anymore, then I’m not sure how worthwhile it is to trade for those types of guys. I still think, build a strong 5-man rotation as possible. So I hope we see Duran in another year or two and maybe the Escobar trade starts paying dividends.
    • mikelink45, KGB and DocBauer like this
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Major League Ready
Nov 06 2020 10:15 AM

 

But the Twins were serious contenders in 2019 and 2020, so not sure what

 

You will have to elaborate. I don't understand the point given he was a free agent at the end of the 2018 season.Would would we have better with him even if they had resigned him? Sano was signifcantly better offensively than Escobar in 2019 and Escobar was terrible in 2020. I loved Escobar but I don't see how we were hurt by trading him and if Duran pans out it was a significant net gain.

I think still early to tell how they did.If Duran has decent time with Twins, or can get moved for something of value, then I think it minium it was a wash.The year we traded Escobar we were going nowhere.We signed Gonzo to fill Escobar's roll, so really you would need to compare those 2, in my opinion, and the members we got for a true value of the trade, assuming we would have resigned Escobar.Also, keep in mind Escobar has been playing in offensive ballpark. 

We’ll never know the opportunity cost in terms of playoff wins, but imagine dropping Eduardo Escobar’s 2019 production into 3rd base and moving Sano over to 1B in 2019.
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Major League Ready
Nov 06 2020 04:20 PM

 

We’ll never know the opportunity cost in terms of playoff wins, but imagine dropping Eduardo Escobar’s 2019 production into 3rd base and moving Sano over to 1B in 2019.

 

They lost 10-4 / 8-2 & 5-1 so I thinks it's safe to say the opportunity cost of not having Escobar for the 2019 playoffs was zero. 

We’ll never know the opportunity cost in terms of playoff wins, but imagine dropping Eduardo Escobar’s 2019 production into 3rd base and moving Sano over to 1B in 2019.


And not having to sign Donaldson to a contract we will regret. I would rather have Esco and all that money to sign a pitcher that would be far better than Duran especially since the Twins window might be closed before Duran ever throws a pitch in the show.
    • KGB likes this

I discount any production from Escobar after signing his FA contract: you simply can't say that the Twins would have gotten any of that. Maybe AZ signs him. Maybe another team signs him. Maybe to keep him the Twins have to add 2-3M per year. It's too speculative. They had half a season left of control and flipped him for a guy who projects to be a top half of the rotation starter. That's really good value.

 

De La Trinidad looks like minor league depth at this point, but Maciel might be something more. But I agree: really hard to evaluate minor league guys who didn't get to play.

 

Duran is the real piece for the Twins, and he's looking on track to pitch for the team in 2021 or 2022. The fastball splitter combo is an effective one and if his curve can be a solid third offering then he's got a pitch mix that can allow him to be an excellent starter. The stuff is there, the build looks right to stay healthy and strong. He keeps the ball in the park and the walks aren't too bad, so if he can keep this level of control at the MLB level he'll be fine. He definitely has the stuff to finish off hitters.

 

I like this trade for the Twins.

    • Dman, Major League Ready and wabene like this

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